by Victor Grossman
“Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall.”
The children’s rhyme and its words Wall and Fall came to mind in connection with commemorations of the fall of the Berlin Wall – actually its opening up. Is such an allusion frivolous? Maybe. For millions that event twenty-five years ago was marked by genuine, understandable euphoria. But unceasing ballyhoo in the German media, weeks and weeks ahead of the anniversary, and plans for 8000 white helium balloons lit up by 60,000 batteries along the ten-mile length of the former wall, to be released in the evening with triumphant trumpet blasts, jubilant church bells or something similar while Angela Merkel, Lech Valesa, Mikhail Gorbachov, Berlin’s departing mayor and other celebrities cast their eyes gratefully heavenward, may perhaps justify my somewhat different approach.
After the Wall lost its barrier status on November 9th 1989, what soon fell in the months that followed hardly conjured up the funny-looking egg some recall from Alice’s looking-glass adventures. It was rather the forty-year-old institution calling itself the German Democratic Republic, the GDR. To employ the ovoid allusion again, one might inquire: Did it fall because it was totally foul? Was it given an outside push or two? And did that downfall represent simply the glorious revolution of a folk yearning for freedom – or is the matter more complicated? This is still very relevant, for many similar uprisings have since occurred – and are still occurring.
Why did the GDR go under?
(Continued at Truthout)